What can you do to help fight Switzerland's flu epidemic?
The number of flu cases is on the rise, Swiss health authorities warn. What should you do (and not do) if you become ill?
The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reported that after a slow start, the number of people suffering from the flu has risen this week. Ninety-five cases were reported per 100,000 inhabitants, exceeding the seasonal epidemic threshold of 69 cases.
As of January 14th, the numbers are highest among 15 to 29 year olds, with the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, Vaud and Valais the worst affected. However, the incidence of flu is increasing in nearly all regions and age groups, FOPH reported.
For most people flu is not a serious illness, but its symptoms — fever, body aches, chills, sore throat, and cough — can be very uncomfortable.
And in some cases it can lead to serious conditions, such as pneumonia, with several hundred people dying from complications every year in Switzerland. Most of them are patients with a weakened immunity system, such as the elderly and people suffering chronic diseases.
FOPH recommends getting the flu vaccine each year in the autumn to minimise the risk of catching the illness, which normally hits from December until the end of February.
If you do come down with the flu, the Swiss health authorities recommend three common-sense measures to keep the virus from spreading:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
- Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not out in the open where other people are, because the virus spreads most often through the air. Or, use paper tissues and toss them out immediately.
- Stay home until at least a day after your symptoms abate. This way you will not only minimise the likelihood of post-flu complications, but also avoid contaminating others.